The first submarine (S41) of a batch of four, arrived in Alexandria’s Ras El-Tin naval base on 19 April. The new submarine, manufactured by German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, sailed from the German city of Kiel at the end of March.

Egypt 209-1400

According to the Egyptian press, the Egyptian navy undertook exercises using the submarine on 18 April, ensuring its readiness to join the fleet.

Similar to the South African submarines, these submarines have a dived top speed of 21.5 knots. They are equipped to launch both missiles and torpedoes.

In May 2016, the US State Department agreed to sell to Egypt via a foreign military sales (FMS), twenty Harpoon UGM-84L Block-II encapsulated missiles at a cost of $143 million including services for five years. At the time, the DSCA (Defense Security and Defense Agency) indicated that these weapons were for supporting the Egyptian Navy’s Type 209 submarines.

Even if South African submarines are equipped with SUT 264 torpedoes, we could fairly think Egyptian boats might fire DM2-A3 torpedoes like Colombia, with its German Type 209/1200. Another option is the American Mk-48 torpedoe. Indeed, Egyptian Romero submarines have already Mk-48 Mod4M or Mk-48 Mod 6AT torpedoes in their inventory.

According to the German press, the second submarine (S42) is currently under trials. The agreement between Egyptian authorities and TKMS foresees that the two next units will be delivered from 2018 onwards.

Romero’s replacement program:

For over 15 years, Egypt has looked for replacing its Chinese Romero-class submarines delivered in 1983 and 1984.

Early in the 2000s, Egypt was keen to procure second-hand submarines. In December 2004, preliminary negotiations with Germany for the acquisition of Type 206A submarines Germany took place. Egyptian authorities were already interested to get up to four submarines. Other studied options included Greek Type 209/1100 submarines and even three Heroj-class submarines from Montenegro.

After several years of negotiations, due to the fact Germany already supplies Dolphin-class submarines to Israel, both governments reached an agreement in summer 2011 for 2+2 (2 and 2 in option) Type 209/1400 submarines for €920 million. In February 2014, rumours indicated that Egypt wanted to activate its option from TKMS for a cost of €500 million notwithstanding the alleged opposition of former Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel who vowed a much more cautious approach to licensing arms exports. In 2015, the German press unveiled the option was exercised.

Between 2011 and 2015, other rumours indicated Egypt was interested by Russian submarines into a wider package with aircrafts, artillery systems, etc.

Written by Julien Brugnetti for OIDA Strategic Intelligence



Nigeria is reviving its air force with a number of aircraft acquisitions from abroad and refurbishment of grounded aircraft to intensify its operations against Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and reposition itself to better protect its national security. Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that: “The Nigerian Air Force has adopted and is currently executing operational strategies to boost the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Air Force while also improving the welfare of its airmen and some of the communities within its area of operation.”

On October 21, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra signed a contract for ten Super Mushshak trainer aircraft. Currently on loan are eight aircraft until the new aircraft are delivered. PAC’s Kamra Chairman, AM Arshad Malik, said that the contract includes operational training and technical support by the Pakistan Air Force.

At a ceremony held at Nigerian Air Force Base Kaduna on December 5, Air Marshal Abubakar accepted the first four Super Mushshaks with an additional four to be delivered in 2017. According to Abubakar, the air force currently has 70 pilots on training placements locally and abroad. The Super Mushshak  (The Agile) is an upgraded version of the Mushshak fitted with a more powerful engine, cockpit air-conditioning system (Enviro R-134), electrical instruments, and electric trim (elevator and rudder electrical cum manual trim).

Apart from basic flight training, the Super Mushshak can be utilized for:

  • Instrument flying
  • Aerobatics, stalls, and deliberate spins
  • Night flying
  • Navigation flying
  • Formation flying

The Super Mushshak can also be deployed for a wide range of army co-operation missions such as:

  • Forward air control
  • Forward area support with droppable supply containers
  • Reconnaissance
  • Artillery fire observation
  • Camouflage inspection
  • Border patrol
  • Liaison
  • Target flying and target towing for training of ground units

In addition to the Super Mushshak acquisition, Nigeria is set to receive the following aircraft:

  • 4 Mi-35N attack helicopters (Russia)
  • 3 Ex-Brazilian Air Force Super Tucanos (light attack and surveillance operations)
  • 3 JF-17 Thunder fighter jets (Pakistan)

Despite political sensitivities between Nigeria and the U.S., in May 2016 the U.S. was seeking to approve the sale of up to 12 Super Tucanos to Nigeria for operations against Boko Haram. The U.S. has provided millions of dollars towards regional efforts in combatting Boko Haram, and will more than likely continue to do so as long as Nigeria shows progress in ending human rights violations and corruption in its armed forces.


Working with what they already have in their inventory, Nigeria is resurrecting grounded aircraft into service and recently refurbished:

  • 3 Mi-24V and Mi-35P attack helicopters
  • 2 EC-135s
  • 2 AugustaWestland A109s
  • 1 Super Puma
  • 1 Beechcraft light aircraft
  • 1 Falcon jet
  • 1 Diamond DA-42
  • 2 Dornier DO-228 (surveillance and patrol)

The revival of the Nigerian Air Force can only have a positive effect on pilots and will undoubtedly boost morale and professionalism. Air Marshal Abubakar stated that: “By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the NAF would have 21 additional new platforms in its inventory. We are highly excited of this development because the last time the NAF was given such number of platforms at a time was in the early 80s.” The Air Marshal added that the main objective of the air force’s strategy is to enable land and surface forces to operate with little or no limitations: “You cannot eliminate all threats to surface forces, what you can do is to soften the ground sufficiently so that the Army or Navy can move in to conduct their operations.”

Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA

Source : OIDA Strategic Intelligence

Japan seeks to win Thai air defense radar contract

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO

Japan is seeking to win a contract to supply Thailand with an air defense radar system built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp, as it looks to counter growing Chinese influence in the Southeast Asian nation, according to four Japanese government officials and one industry source.

The effort is part of a wider push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to bolster its position in the region along with its U.S. ally. The Chief of Staff of Japan’s Air Self Defense Force, Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, traveled to Bangkok last month to discuss areas of possible cooperation.

Japan expects the Thai military government to begin accepting competitive bids as early as next year as it upgrades and adds to its existing U.S. and European radar systems, the sources said. It is unclear who else may be bidding.

The value of such a contract is unclear as the specifications for the system have not yet been released. Radar systems built by Mitsubishi and other companies for Japan can stretch to hundreds of millions of dollars depending on the complexity and coverage. The sources said Japan would look to offer a lower price system because of Thailand’s limited defense budget.

Japan’s push for stronger ties with Thailand, will benefit the U.S. given the growing tensions over China’s claims in the South China Sea, according to the sources. Japan, which until 2014 had a ban on arms exports, has not previously sold military equipment to Thailand.

Since the 2014 coup brought the current Thai government to power, the U.S. has had strained relations with its old ally, which served as a staging ground for American forces during the Vietnam War, offering access to strategic airfields and ports.

In July, Thailand agreed to buy three Chinese-built submarines worth around $1 billion in a deal that illustrated Beijing’s willingness to fill the vacuum left by Washington. And last month, Thai and Chinese military planes performed acrobatic demonstrations together at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, around 260 km (161 miles) northeast of Bangkok, as a prelude to the first joint military drill between the nations’ air forces.

A company spokeswoman said Mitsubishi Electric does not discuss individual deals.

“While we are aware that Thailand is moving ahead with the deployment of air defense radar, we can’t comment on the activities of individual corporations, » a spokesman for Japan’s defense ministry said.

A Thailand Defense Ministry spokesman, Kongcheep Tantravanich, said that “many countries want to sell it to us but we have to see if the system fits.” Spokesmen for the Royal Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force said they had no knowledge of a plan for a new system.

Washington has a statutory obligation to withhold aid to militaries involved in coups against democratically elected governments. That includes restricting its arms makers from selling military kit to the country. Japan does not face such restrictions in engaging with the Thai government.

Tokyo is worried that China’s wooing of Thailand could further split members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and blunt criticism of China’s island building in the South China Sea. Beijing has claimed most of the resource-rich waterway as its own, sparking protests from other claimants, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

The radar Japan proposes for the deal is a variant on Mitsubishi Electric’s fixed-position FSP-3 radar, an older generation system that has been used by Japan’s Self Defense Forces to detect air threats, the sources said.

Source : Reuters


La Pologne souhaite acquérir des missiles de croisière américains

30 nov. 2016 | Par Guillaume Belan

La Pologne a demandé à Washington l’achat de 70 missiles de croisière Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).

Equipé d’un moteur turbopropulseur plus efficace et d’un volume de carburant plus élevé , la version ER du JASSM atteindrait une portée de plus de 930 km. A l’instar du missile français Scalp, le JASSM est un armement destiné à être utilisée contre des cibles protégées de haute valeur. Avec ce missile, la Pologne deviendrait capable de frapper le territoire russe.

Le contrat éventuel est estimé à 200 millions de dollars et inclut une mise à niveau des F-16C/D polonais.

Source: Air&Cosmos

Report Urges Industry Diversification in UK Shipbuilding Projects

By: Andrew Chuter, November 29, 2016

LONDON – The UK government could use the new Type 31 frigate program to boost national shipbuilding capabilities and end BAE Systems’ monopoly on the construction of surface warships here, said a report into the future of the industry released Nov 29.

Having the Type 31 built by an industry alliance not led by BAE could be a « pathfinder » towards the rejuvenation of naval shipbuilding, Sir John Parker said in a report about the implementation of a national shipbuilding strategy commissioned by the government.

The report has been published just days after the Ministry of Defence announced it was throwing open to public consultation a possible revamp of its wider defense industrial strategy. Parker’s recommendations will be considered as part of the wider strategy work.

Under new Prime Minister Theresa May, the government is championing the introduction of a new industrial strategy to boost Britain’s manufacturing sector.

Britain committed to building eight Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates and five Type 31 general-purpose frigates in the strategic defence and security review last year.

Parker, currently the chairman of Anglo American but previously a highly regarded figure in the shipbuilding sector here, recommended that all the Type 26’s should be built by BAE at its two yards in Glasgow, Scotland, but the Type 31 program should be led by another company or alliance.

BAE responded to the report issuing a statement saying that as the « custodian of the UK’s capability to design and build complex warships we are confident that we will continue to play a prominent role in the delivery of future UK warships. … The commitment to five River-class offshore patrol vessels and eight Type 26’s protects this capability and our shipbuilding skills providing continuous warship building production at our facilities in Glasgow into the 2030s. »

Parker justified the two-primes approach saying, « There is no precedence for building two first-of-class Royal Navy frigates in one location [in a similar timeframe]. »

The executive said the Type 31 program should « harness » regional shipyards in the UK that have demonstrated their competitiveness and capability to build fully outfitted blocks of the warship.

If the recommendation is accepted by the government it could open the door to largely commercial shipyards like the A&P Group, Babcock’s Appledore facility, Cammell Laird and Harland & Wolff.

Parker never mentioned the issue but most of the potential block builders are English-based and their presence on a program like the Type 31 would leave open some options to the government in London were Scotland to vote for independence in any future referendum.

Ahead of the last referendum in 2014 the government threatened to pull it’s warship orders out of Scotland had voters north of the border voted for independence.

Parker said there was already a renaissance in shipbuilding in a range of regional shipbuilding companies.

The national shipbuilding strategy « could take the industry on a transformational journey similar to that experienced by our rejuvenated car industry, » he said.

Once the world’s largest warship builder, the industry directly employs around just 15,000 people today.

Parker said an alliance approach could also be used to allow British yards to bid against international rivals for the construction of three large logistics supply ships. Contract award is expected in 2020.

Logistics vessels are not required to be built in Britain, unlike complex warships like the Type 26.

The Royal Navy’s two 70,000 tonne aircraft carriers now coming to the end of their build program at Babcock International’s Rosyth, Scotland, yard contracted out the construction of modules to several yards around Britain.

The BAE-led industry alliance responsible for the program had the huge modules floated around the coast of Britain to Rosyth where they were assembled like a giant Meccano set.

The Ministry of Defence recently announced it expected BAE to cut the first steel on the lead Type 26 frigate next summer.

The first warship is needed by 2023 to start replacing the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate fleet.

The Type 31 timeline has not been made public but work is someway behind the anti-submarine warfare frigate.

For the moment, the general-purpose warship is in the pre-concept stage, with program officials still looking which of several potential designs to adopt.

« The Type 26 is critical for the Royal Navy and the nation while the Type 31 is urgently required to maintain frigate fleet numbers.To establish a separate lead shipyard or alliance would appear to be the best way forward for Type 31e to minimise the overall risk, » Parker said.

One industry analyst, who asked not to be named, queried Parker’s take on which approach offered the greatest risk.

« Is it giving BAE two warship types to build or signing up a contractor who may not have built a complex ship of this nature in a generation? » he said.

The analyst said the problem for BAE in losing control of the Type 31e program would come in a design department which is likely to see a rundown in Type 26 work around the end of 2019.

BAE would still be able to compete for combat systems and block building work, said Parker.

The Anglo Amercian executive said he had called the general-purpose frigate the Type31e to emphasize the warship had to be exportable.

Parker said the MoD needed to get on and procure the Type31e as rapidly as possible and place it in service as early as possible in the 2020s.

If the money is not available to match the timeline, « wider government support should be provided to allow early vessel build, » he said.

Money is a real issue if Parker is to meet his aspirations for an early start to the Type 31e.

« There is no money in the government’s ten-year equipment plan for Type 31e, and it would likely take somewhere between £1.5 billion and £2 billion to get the program on the road in the timescale Sir Peter is recommending, » said one industry executive who asked not to be named.

The report said the MoD needed to come up with a 30-year naval shipbuilding road plan for the different shipbuilding programs, with assured budgets not subject to « random » program changes triggered by annual budget adjustments.

Parker didn’t restrict his recommendations to the industrial aspect of shipbuilding. The executive also took a pot shot at MoD’s procurement and program governance shortcomings.

The executive said naval procurement took far too long. « There are too many people who think they have a vote and even a veto in the process. »

« There was a lack of governance systems that grip design and specifications to budget and time to contract, » he said.

Trevor Taylor, a defense-management analyst at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said the report highlighted longstanding acquisition issues at the MoD.

« The report reflects the problems in defense acquisition that were visible at the time of the Smart Acquisition initiative in 1998.The Royal Navy appears to have learned little about the management of the supply base or the link between requirement and cost, » said Taylor


La Norvège souhaite acquérir des P-8A Poseidon

Le ministère norvégien de la Défense a annoncé son intention d’acquérir cinq nouveaux avions de patrouille maritime du type américain P-8A Poseidon. Représentant un investissement de plus d’un milliard d’euros, les appareils devraient être livrés par Boeing en 2021 et 2022.

Ils sont appelés à remplacer les six vieux P-3C Orion de l’armée de l’air norvégienne, mis pour emploi au service de la marine, ainsi que les trois Falcon 20 utilisés pour des missions de guerre électronique.

En service dans l’US Navy, déjà vendu à l’Inde et également retenu par le Royaume-Uni, le Poseidon permettra à la Norvège de maintenir une capacité à long rayon d’action de lutte antinavire et anti-sous-marine, de surveillance maritime, de sauvetage et de renseignement. Les cinq nouveaux appareils contribueront en particulier à renforcer les moyens norvégiens face à la remontée en puissance de la flotte russe, à commencer par ses sous-marins, dont l’activité a repris de la vigueur ces dernières années. C’est dans cette perspective également qu’Oslo compte renouveler ses six sous-marins de la classe Ula. Dans cette perspective, un choix est attendu en 2017 entre les deux modèles en compétition : le Scorpene 2000 du Français DCNS et le type 212A de l’Allemand TKMS.

Conçu à partir de l’avion de ligne 737-800 de Boeing, le P-8A mesure 38.56 mètres de long pour 38.8 mètres d’envergure, sa masse maximale au décollage étant de 83.5 tonnes. Ce biréacteur est conçu pour la mise en oeuvre de missiles Harpoon et SLAM-ER, ainsi que de torpilles Mk50 et Mk54.

Source : Met et Marine

Boeing T-X Headed Toward First Flight

By: Valerie Insinna, November 29, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Boeing-Saab T-X trainer is on track to fly by the end of the year after completing afterburner engine runs last week, Boeing officials said.

Only a few more major tests remain before the plane makes its inaugural flight, said program manager Ted Torgerson during a Nov. 23 interview ahead of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC).

“We are clicking off all of our test points, we have tested around somewhere around nearly 1,200 test points on the jet on ground tests,” he said.

The next test involves putting the plane, engine running, through the motions of a flight — takeoff, climb and landing — with the aircraft tied down to the runway, Torgerson said. The company will also check how the airplane responds to simulated system failures. After that, a Boeing-Saab board will clear the aircraft for flight, and the Federal Aviation Administration will certify it. Finally, the company will conduct low-, medium- and high-speed taxi tests before flying the jet.

“We’re looking to fly soon, before the year is over” Tom Conard, the company’s T-X capture team leader, reiterated during a Tuesday briefing at I/ITSEC. “And as we’re preparing that jet to fly, our flight crews are training in the training system devices to prepare them exactly what they’re going to see in the jet.”

A second Boeing T-X was revealed to the press during a September rollout ceremony shortly before it went through structural proof tests. The company is currently powering all of the systems on the airplane, will fuel the plane in a matter of weeks and plans to move quickly through tests for an early 2017 flight, Togerson said.

The Boeing-Saab team is competing against one other clean-sheet design, manufactured by Northrop Grumman. Two other teams are banking on less risky existing designs. Lockheed Martin has partnered with KAI to offer the T-50A, a version of the Korean company’s T-50 trainer. Raytheon joined with Leonardo and CAE on the T-100, which uses Alenia Aermacchi M-346 as the basis.

If all goes according to schedule, the Boeing-Saab plane will fly around the same time as the US Air Force issues its final request for proposals, which officials have targeted for a December release. The service has already put forward several draft request for proposals, which detail threshold requirements as well as objective requirements that could knock hundreds of millions of dollars off a company’s total evaluated price.

Boeing, for its part, has stressed that its clean-sheet design was tailored specifically for the threshold requirements, and officials have not detailed how close it can get to the objective.

« We’re going to meet all the requirements and growth provisions for the future,” Conard said. « It has no radar, it has no weapons, it is not doing anything except advanced fast jet training. »

Asked whether Boeing plans to incorporate such features for potential opportunities currently under discussion by the Air Force — such as an exercise of light-attack aircraft that could inform a program of record, or a proposal to hire industry to play the aggressor role in training exercises — Conard demurred.

“We’ll look at that after we win T-X,” he said. “We’ve got to win T-X, and then from there we will able to adapt and work in future variants. And I’ll leave it at that.”


F/A-18: Le Koweit s’approche d’une décision

28 nov. 2016 | Par Guillaume Belan

Il en était question depuis plusieurs mois, la nouvelle s’approche doucement d’une décision : le Koweit s’apprête à commander 28 F/A-18 Super Hornet. C’est ce qu’a confirmé le General Lafi al-Azemi, responsable des acquisitions militaire du Koweit. Le marché devrait dépasser les 5 Mds de dollars. Les F/A-18 de Boeing viendront remplacer les F-18 vieillissants. Des F-18 que Boeing s’est engagé à reprendre selon le général al-Azemi. Le Koweit en dispose de 39.

Il y a quelques semaines le département d’état américain avait accordé son feu vert pour cette vente. A noter que le le Koweit s’est récemment porté acquéreur de 28 Eurofighter Typhoon (lire ici). L’émirat s’apprête donc a gonfler considérablement ses capacités de chasse et de bombardement, à l’instar du Qatar, qui, outre le Rafale, souhaiterait acquérir jusqu’à 72 F-15 (lire notre article ici). Des besoins apparus avec la montée en puissance des tensions régionales (Yémen, Syrie, Irak, Iran…) qui provoque une certaine course aux armements dans la région. Le Koweit vient également de commander des hélicoptères H225M (relire ici).

Source: Air&Cosmos

Armement : encore un succès de la France (Thales) en Australie

Par Michel Cabirol  |  24/11/2016, 10:00  |  572  mots

Le contrat de modernisation obtenu par Thales vise à doter les systèmes sonars des sous-marins australiens de la classe Collins des meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection sous-marine (Crédits : ministère de la Défense australien) Thales a signé un contrat de conception et de pré-production avec le ministère de la Défense australien pour moderniser les six sous-marins de la classe Collins de la Marine royale. Un premier contrat de 70 millions d’euros.

Et encore un succès de la France en Australie dans le domaine de l’armement. Thales a signé un contrat de conception et de pré-production avec le ministère de la Défense australien pour moderniser les six sous-marins de la classe Collins de la Marine royale. Le montant de ce contrat s’élève à 100 millions de dollars australiens (soit 70 millions d’euros) mais il pourrait atteindre plusieurs centaines de millions d’euros si l’électronicien obtient les prochaines tranches concernant la production et l’installation des sonars.

Le gouvernement australien devrait donner en 2018 son feu vert définitif au programme de modernisation et les contrats devraient ensuite se succéder sur une dizaine d’années en fonction des besoins de la marine australienne, a précisé le vice-président des systèmes de lutte sous la mer de Thales, Alexis Morel lors d’une conférence téléphonique. Il estime que cette modernisation doit permettre « à la marine australienne de maintenir sa supériorité sous les mers dans la région ».

Meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection

Thales aura pour mission de remplacer les antennes des sous-marins entrées en service au milieu des années 90 par des systèmes de sonars plus performants. Dans un contexte d’évolution permanente des menaces, ce contrat vise à doter leurs systèmes sonars des meilleures performances mondiales en matière de détection sous-marine, estime le groupe d’électronique.

Premier fournisseur de technologies sonars à l’Australie, Thales s’appuiera sur une forte expertise locale et internationale pour moderniser les antennes cylindriques, les antennes de flanc et leur traitement à bord. Ainsi, les antennes cylindriques seront remplacées par des antennes cylindriques modulaires (MCA), élaborées par Thales au Royaume-Uni. L’actuelle antenne de flanc sera, elle, remplacée par une antenne de dernière génération développée par les équipes Thales en France.

Dans ce cadre de la modernisation des Collins, Thales Australia engagera des sociétés australiennes comme Sonartech Atlas et L3 Oceania en vue de préparer ce programme, a précisé le ministère australien de la Défense dans un communiqué. « C’est un exemple clair de notre engagement à renforcer le potentiel d’innovation de l’industrie militaire australienne », fait observer le ministre de la Défense, Christopher Pyne. Les travaux d’intégration des systèmes de sonars s’effectueront sur le site de Thales à Rydalmere, à côté de Sydney.

« C’est très bien pour Thales en Australie : cela permet de renouveler des compétences et des emplois et nous maintient dans une position importante dans le pays », estime Alexis Morel.

Une étape importante pour Thales

Avec ce contrat obtenu en Australie, Thales a en ligne de mire un contrat que le groupe pourrait décrocher courant 2017. Un contrat de plus d’un milliard d’euros en vue d’équiper de sonars de nouvelle génération les 12 futurs sous-marins que DCNS et Lockheed Martin (système de combat) doivent construire pour la marine australienne (34 milliards d’euros au total). « Dans le contexte du grand contrat sur les futurs sous-marins, c’est évidemment une étape très importante pour nous », estime Alexis Morel. « On ne vend pas la peau de l’ours mais on aborde les choses avec confiance », affirme-t-il toutefois.

« Aujourd’hui, nous avons l’assurance que la confiance du gouvernement australien dans Thales pour moderniser ses sous-marins actuels est renouvelée », assure-t-il, en précisant que le processus de sélection pour ce contrat n’est pas encore défini.

Source: La

Purchase of Chinese Subs by Bangladesh ‘An Act of Provocation’ Toward India

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi, November 23, 2016

NEW DELHI — Ever since Bangladesh took delivery of Chinese submarines on Nov. 14, analysts in India have expressed increasing concern over a deepening of China’s footprint in India’s friendly neighbor.

The arrival of the submarines comes as Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar prepares to visit Dhaka on Nov. 30 to upgrade defense ties between the neighboring countries.

Bangladesh took delivery of the first of the two submarines purchased from China at a cost of $203 million. The Type 035G diesel-electric submarines, armed with torpedoes and mines, are capable of attacking enemy ships and submarines.

Analysts say the sale of the subs is part of a strategy meant to encircle India.

« Given Bangladesh’s economic situation and the fact that it is surrounded on three sides by India, the acquisition of submarines is not only illogical but actually an act of provocation as far as India is
concerned. Submarines are offensive weapons of sea denial and their only use would be to pose a threat in being for India and to complicate the latter’s maritime security paradigm, » said Arun Prakash, a retired Indian Navy admiral and former service chief.

« Obviously this transfer is a step further in China’s strategy of encircling India with its client states, » Prakash added.

However, Bharat Karnad, a research professor at the India-based think tank Centre for Policy Research, disagreed.

« No, it is just a good, economical deal Dhaka could not pass up, » Karnad said. « But the Modi government will have to ensure it does not fetch Beijing strategic benefits. »

« It is difficult to fathom why Bangladesh, which does not encounter any conventional maritime-military threat, has inducted submarines in its navy. The maritime disputes between Bangladesh and two of its only maritime neighbors — Myanmar and India — were resolved through international arbitration in 2012 and 2014, respectively, » said Gurpreet Khurana, an Indian Navy captain and executive director of the National Maritime Foundation.

Swaran Singh, a professor for diplomacy and disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, said: « Bangladesh Navy has always been [the] beneficiary of Chinese transfers, but [the] transfer of submarine means major upgradation of their defense cooperation and would contribute to South Asia becoming a far more contested space infested with new weapon systems. »

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Bangladesh in October 2016, Bangladesh and China agreed to elevate their relationship from a  » comprehensive partnership of cooperation » to a  » strategic partnership, » which « raises concern here, » said an Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) official.

Diplomats of the Bangladesh High Commission here were unavailable for comment.

China has emerged as a major supplier of arms for the Bangladesh Army but also a destination for its officers to receive training.

Bangladesh is modernizing it armed forces and procuring weapons from overseas. « The delivery of the first Chinese submarine will make the country (Bangladesh) dependent for more arms from China, » a senior Indian Army official said.

India is also boosting its defense ties. Parrikar, during his two-day visit to Bangladesh next week, is likely to « upgrade its bilateral defense cooperation, » the MoD official said. India is contemplating supplying offshore patrol vehicles with an easy financial package to Bangladesh as part of the defense cooperation, the official added.

« Bangladesh is our neighbor, and its strategic importance cannot be understated in any way. Such events as the purchase of submarines by Bangladesh greatly enhances the mistrust between the countries and
steps must be taken to reduce this gap and prevent Bangladesh from playing the China card repeatedly, » said Probal Ghosh, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to leading political and policy discussions in India.

Though India and Bangladesh have very cordial relations under the ruling dispensation in Dhaka, the two countries have yet to settle on a water-sharing treaty, which has proven to be a major irritant in Indo-Bangladesh ties.